Mitch Moreland may be most important piece in lineup

PEORIA, ARIZONA - MARCH 18: Infielder Mitch Moreland #18 of the Oakland Athletics in action during the second inning of the MLB spring training game against the San Diego Padres at Peoria Sports Complex on March 18, 2021 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PEORIA, ARIZONA - MARCH 18: Infielder Mitch Moreland #18 of the Oakland Athletics in action during the second inning of the MLB spring training game against the San Diego Padres at Peoria Sports Complex on March 18, 2021 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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The Oakland A’s have their core for their lineup. Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and Sean Murphy are expected to be key pieces in the middle of the lineup, while the exciting Ramon Laureano helps set the table. Yet, as respectable as that group may be, the A’s need someone to step up to help lengthen the lineup.

That player may be Mitch Moreland. He was the only hitter that the A’s signed to a major league deal this offseason, albeit at a very affordable $2.25 million for this year. While he has generally been a solid power hitter, Moreland has not been a great player over much of his career, posting a somewhat mediocre 10.9 bWAR in his 11 years in the majors.

Mitch Moreland key to Oakland A’s lineup

However, he has been a solid player, especially over his past three seasons. In that time, he has posted a 112 OPS+ with 44 homers and 49 doubles in his 946 plate appearances. Moreland is strictly a platoon player, playing against right handed pitching, but he has the type of pop that the A’s need.

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In theory, Moreland is also Matt Olson insurance. While he is not a Gold Glove caliber first baseman, he is not an embarrassment in the field either. Should Olson be lost for any length of time, Moreland could step in and do a respectable job defensively.

But that is not why he is in Oakland. Moreland was signed to be the A’s new designated hitter, replacing the disappointing Khris Davis. The hope is that, by letting Moreland focus strictly on his hitting, he will have one of the best seasons of his career. As he has gotten better over the past three years, there is some basis for that hope, even if Moreland is already 35 years old.

That age does not matter nearly as much as one may think. By serving as the A’s DH, he will be able to save wear and tear on his body, allowing him to maximize his time in the batter’s box. In doing so, he should be able to be that additional power threat, another thumper in the A’s lineup.

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Mitch Moreland may not be the most exciting player, but he holds a valuable place in the lineup. He could be a key to the Oakland A’s season.

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